The Abbeville Yellow Jackets kept buzzing the Pike County Bulldogs Monday night in the AHSAA Class 3A, Area 4 tournament championship game, but PCHS avoided the sting of Abbeville to claim the Area 4 championship, 71-67 in Abbeville.
“Like I said Friday night, we were not going to get complacent after one game and the area championship was decided on the court tonight instead of with a coin toss,” PCHS head coach Doug Holland said. “And I am very pleased with that.”
The two squads had swapped blowout home wins in the regular season, but the championship game was anything but a blowout. The Bulldogs (20-7) threatened to widen the lead, but every time the Jackets would mount a comeback.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but Abbeville (19-11) started connecting from long range and cut the lead to 61-57 with 2:50 remaining in the game on back-to-back three-pointers.
Pike County did not crack under pressure, pushing the lead back to 10 points at 67-57 in less than one minute.
The Yellow Jackets kept on fighting and trimmed the lead to a single possession at 70-67 with 18 seconds to play.
Senior Deandre Mathis sunk one free throw to ice the game for Pike County with 10 seconds to play.
“That was the longest half of basketball that I have played in, much less coached in,” Holland said. “I knew that coach (Moses) Knight has a great team and they have that tradition of giving you their best especially in their gym. So we expected this type of finish.”
As a team the Bulldogs shot 17-of-21 from the free throw line. PCHS also dominated the paint all night and Holland said that was the plan.
“We wanted to control the post all night and force them to shoot a lot of outside shots,” he said. “If they were on from the outside we were going to guard them man, but that was not working so we went back into the zone and it worked.”
Pike County has accomplished step one on the pre-season goal list.
“In the beginning of the year we thought the game here slipped away from us,” Holland said. “We know how tough it is to come to Abbeville and we had 38 turnovers in that game. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was the area title. We thank God that He put us in a situation to be here tonight. And the main thing I am proud of is that we came down and got the area title.”
The teams were tied early at 7-7 with 3:30 left in the first quarter, but Pike grabbed a 9-7 lead and never trailed again. The lead was cut to as few as two points, but the Bulldogs had an answer for every Abbeville run.
Quay Bailey led the charge with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Kendrick Jackson added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Tevin Andrews and Martellis Foster each contributed 13 points. Andrews had seven rebounds and seven assists and Foster chipped in four rebounds.
Deandre Mathis had nine points and six rebounds, Jarrod Wilson had three points and Jarred Snell had two points.
The Bulldogs will host a sub-regional for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign when Geneva (10-15) comes to town for the Class 3A Sub-Regionals Feb. 13 with a 7 p.m. tip.
Click here for a photo gallery of Monday’s action